One-in-four children in foster care in parts of Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow do not have an allocated social worker, according to a Hiqa report.
The inspection report on foster care services in Dublin South West/Kildare/West Wicklow found that 111 of 429 children did not have an allocated social worker, meaning they were potentially at risk.
Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) inspectors found evidence of good practice but also found that a number of children with no allocated social worker, had not been visited enough to check on their welfare — with no record of a statutory visit in over four years in one case.
The report also showed there were 46 relative foster carer households caring for children who had not yet been approved by the foster care committee. Meanwhile, a number of children who did not have an allocated social worker were living with foster carers who also did not have an allocated link worker.
“Consequently, no professional was visiting these households to identify if care needs were being met and/or if the placement was safe,” the report found.
It also found 143 out of 429 (33%) children did not have an up-to-date statutory child-in-care review, and that 32 children (7%) did not have a written care plan in place.
As for those leaving care, the report found some issues, including a waiting list for an aftercare service provided by an external agency. One-third of those over the age of 16 had not yet been referred to the aftercare service, and most in this category did not have an allocated after-care worker.
Some 20 relative foster carers were also on a waiting list for assessment, while there were delays in vetting and in re-vetting foster carers who had previously been assessed.
Thirteen foster placements had ended in an unplanned way in the last 12 months, including as a result of allegations against foster carers. Inspectors found that some allegations made against foster carers were not managed and investigated in line with Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children.
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